Posted by: bluesyemre | June 16, 2014

The Perceived Impact of Ebooks on Student Reading Practices: A Local Study


Like academic librarians everywhere, librarians at our institution are evaluating emerging ebook options for our collection. However, anecdotal information, bolstered by informal student surveys, has suggested that a significant number of our students prefer print books to ebooks. For example, students enrolled in a course taught by one of the authors, Books and Culture, conducted surveys of fellow students. The most recent survey of 175 students, conducted in the first week of January 2013, found that between 5 and 6 percent of students would choose an ebook over a printed book, up from 3 to 4 percent two years earlier. Since our library offers very few ebooks at this time, we found ourselves wondering how students saw themselves using ebooks if we added them to the collection. In order to explore this question, we sought to understand first how students use library print books in order to see if use of the library’s print collection informed student perceptions of ebook use. Would students prefer books read for pleasure electronically? What about books used for research? How do students imagine using ebooks might impact their research behavior? In order to better understand whether and how our students might use ebooks if we were to add them to our collection, we conducted a study with the following questions in mind:

  • How do students currently use our current print collection for both research and recreational purposes?
  • How do students use ebooks for these purposes, if at all?
  • How do students predict the availability of ebooks in our collection might impact their research and recreational reading habits?

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